Feb 20, 2015

Review: Fuzzy Mud


Fuzzy Mud
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Book description:


"Be careful. Your next step may be your last."

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.


Review:

I found this advanced copy of Fuzzy Mud very suitable for middle grade children. The story and characters go through a range of important topics that 5th grade & up children will find easy to relate to in their every day realities. Topics such as bullying, changing attitudes among peers, fitting in / not fitting in, are touched on as well as parenting and home life issues. Care for others, as well as caring for our environment, are topics presented in this suspenseful children's story.

The characters have many decisions to make that can have extraordinary results on their wellbeing and the world around them. I was provided a copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. Excitement and mystery are intertwined with the life lessons in this book to keep the story moving at an appropriate pace for young readers.

This is the first book I have read by Louis Sachar. I will be sharing this read with my 9 year old, who already confronts issues of unfairness, bullying, and changing roles among his friends as they grow older together. A middle aged child can gain a lot of understanding from this book, such as why some children may be acting mean to them, rather than just reacting to the unkindness with more unkindness. Understanding can possibly help as it does in this story. I found the story to be hopeful and encouraging.



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Feb 15, 2015

Review: The Paper Magician


The Paper Magician
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book description:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Review:

I absolutely loved the idea of this book as far as the magic was concerned. Ceony's personality and / or immaturity did not bother me either since she is suppose to be a young apprentice. I loved that Emery made her a paper dog for company. There are so many things about this book that I did enjoy. The characters had a certain innocence that did fit with my idea of being set many years before now. The "historical" part of the book seems to be a touchy subject in some reviews I have read, but I did not care as much about any historical inaccuracies. The story was what I consider to be sweet and had great promise. I enjoyed the discussions of the different kinds of magicians & what the apprentices had to learn to become full magicians.

I liked the idea of it being common to have magicians (& apprentices) in society, and of course where there is good magic someone has to drudge up some bad magic. The story was quite tame enough for a clean teen read actually. I loved Ceony's trip through Emery's heart as a way to give the reader history and connection with the points of action and conflict in the story.

I was provided this book free for an honest review. I read this first book, as well as the 2nd book. I will also read the third book when possible.





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Review: The Glass Magician


The Glass Magician
The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book description:

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

The delightful sequel to Charlie N. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician will charm readers young and old alike.

Review:

I enjoyed this sequil to The Paper Magician, despite the conflicts that can be found that make the time ~ setting incorrect. I usually get a little anal about things like that, but I found this book to be an easy paced read that I did not concentrate on specifics too much because I was enjoying the fantasy - magic aspects of the story. I usually hate when a woman has her womanly duties (like cooking) or stresses over a certain length skirt, but the descriptions of how dupifferent magics were performed apparently distracted me from any historical type issues.

I was given this book for review purposes (to provide an honest review). The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own opinions after reading both book 1 & 2. The love isn't all hot and steamy which is a good change of pace. I actually enjoyed the innocence for a change.

The descriptions of paper folds to perform magic were very imaginative. I liked imagining an old time England with magicians about and common. The second book seemed a bit more exciting and dangerous, life threatening. I enjoyed her journey through Emery's heart in book 1 which clarified many details about his personality.

Overall a good read.



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Feb 14, 2015

Review: One Night in Mississippi


One Night in Mississippi
One Night in Mississippi by Craig Shreve

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book description:

"One Night in Mississippi" is the story of a young activist named Graden Williams who is brutally murdered in Mississippi during the sixties. After the perpetrators are charged but quickly released, Graden's brother, Warren, drifts aimlessly for decades, estranged from the rest of his family and struggling with the guilt that he feels over his brother's death. But when the U.S. Justice Department begins re-opening similar cases more than forty years later, he dedicates himself to bringing Graden's killers back to justice.
A phoned tip after a television appearance leads him to a remote town in northern Ontario, where he meets Earl Olsen, the only murderer who is still at large, and a man who turns out to be very different from what Warren had expected.


review:

I found this book to be very realistic about the times and circumstances in Mississippi. Even in the 1980's where I grew up in Alabama many of these nightmarish treatments still existed if you were not white. This novel struck a very realistically sad, but accurate nerve. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review purposes.

One Night in Mississippi is told from the perspective of Warren who is black and lost his strong willed brother via murder by a group of white men in 1965. We also hear from the youngest of the men, Earl who was no more than a scared white teen at the time of the murder who was also prejudiced against because of his being a "Yankee". These 2 main characters have been perfectly depicted by the author as they each faced their own guilt and horror that followed them throughout their lives.

The book mentions that good intending northerners came to the south to get the black people encouraged to fight (peaceably) for their rights, having good intentions, but no true grasp of what the dangers they and the black minority were truly in. At that time, the whites ruled the state, people, government, police ... It was a true night mare. I have heard someone say last year (in Mississippi) that they did not understand why so many white people remained quite. If you did not shit up, you'd find yourself hung with the black minority, careers destroyed (& often literally killed along with any black person who was "making a fuss ~ getting out of line".

I had to listen to black jokes in my public high school in the late 1980's, and knew there was nothing I could do other than look at the teacher disapprovingly. One Night in Mississippi brought back memories for me (as a white female growing up in the still prejudice south). I felt for the teen age white boy too because I could also relate to his situation. I can only imagine being black & knowing you can do nothing but hide. Women in the south were expected to shut up & bow down to men (if you oppose you are a trouble maker & without a man backing you, you can / could get very hurt too.

The book was very true to the guilt from both main characters. Of course the story is very sad. The subject is a very sober topic and an ugly time in history that needs remembered, improved still, and not sugar coating events hopefully will inform those who were not there to help prevent such perversions of hamamity from being repeated.



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Feb 12, 2015

Review: Suckers


Suckers
Suckers by Z. Rider

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Book description:


“What we have here is a very high-quality junkie novel that happens to be about a unique case of vampirism.” —Evan Clark, author of Movers

WHEN WORN-OUT MUSICIAN DAN FERRY decides to take a shortcut back to the band's hotel, he picks the wrong dark alley to go down. Within days of being attacked by a bat-like creature, he becomes consumed with the need to drink human blood. Terrified of what will happen if he doesn't get his fix--and terrified of what he'll do to get it--he turns to his best friend and bandmate, Ray Ford, for help. But what the two don't know as they try to keep Dan's situation quiet is that the parasite driving Dan's addiction has the potential to wipe out humankind.

Poignant and terrifying, heartfelt and ingenious, Suckers is a story of sacrifice and friendship in the face of an alien contagion that threatens to destroy humanity.

"Mixing recent apocalyptic and zombie stories with classic vampire legends, Rider has come up with a daring and eminently readable new take on both." — Publisher’s Weekly

“Rider brings us convincingly into the life of a band on the road, and Dan and Ray’s bond helps ground this effective horror novel.” — Library Journal

“Touching and occasionally terrifying” — Booklist


Review:

In the first chapters I thought "yeah right, who wouldn't just go to the doctor already. Why make it so complicated." It seemed like a lot of work and secrecy over something that could be fixed by modern science, medicine, or a good doctor. Plus, you wouldn't want to spread it to the community right?!

I actually enjoyed the book more, and it seemed more believable when there was an actual reason not to seek help in public, from the hospital etc. Panic and human nature ran amuck and at that point hiding did seem the best option. The loyalty of friendship was a great bonus and likely the only thing that kept me reading at the beginning. Dan seemed completely taken in an unhealthy way with his friend / band mate Ray. At times his relationship with Ray was as addictive as his craving for blood. It is kind of ironic that Dan goes on & on about a fellow band mate's drug addiction, but has a blood addiction of his own.

I was provided this book free of charge for review purposes. I really didn't like the beginning of the book much, but became more interested in the situation after more people became infected with the bite. The descriptions of the parasites is deserving of a pukeish award. Very gory, gross, and down right disgusting. Blaaaa.

Fair read if you like gross, alien, undead, type things. Gets off to a somewhat slow start and gets even grosser once it gets interesting. Not the worse thing I have read this year.




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Review: My Grandma's a Ninja


My Grandma's a Ninja
My Grandma's a Ninja by Todd Tarpley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book description:

When Ethan's grandma suggests they take a zip line to school, Ethan realizes that his grandma is a little different. In fact, she's a ninja! Ethan is soon the hit of the school when his grandma drops from the ceiling at show-and-tell, and teaches the kids karate moves and how to do backflips in slow motion. But when his grandma deflates his team's soccer ball, everyone is upset including Ethan. Why can't he just have a regular grandma? But when Ethan tries out his new karate movesduring the championship game . . . he's happy that his grandma isn't ordinary."

Review:

I love these sweet children's books with the amazing grandparents. Aren't all grandparents amazimg though if they're involve with their grandkids? Ninja . Wow. Kids can get pretty demanding at times and they can't always be satisfied with the outcome of what they think they want,

I was given this book free for review. As in most cases, there is a little lesson that can be learned among the cool images of ninja grandma. Fun, fantastic, and very imaginative. Great book for young boys & a great gift idea from grandparents.




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Review: We Are Not Ourselves


We Are Not Ourselves
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book description:

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

Review:

First of all, he is your son!!! Not "the boy" & you actually gave him a name!! OK. now that I have that out of my system. I recall my own dad calling me "girl child" & it was actually meant as a term of endearment in a not so huggy, touchy, lovie family, so I can get that.

I was given this book free for an honest review & I honestly did not think the book would ever end. (AT FIRST) Once I began getting close to the end, I dreaded it. At times I strongly disliked the main character Eileen, but understood and admired her at other times. She was a very realistic character.... After all who is actually perfect? Do we not all have faults and sort comings, weaknesses, and strengths?

I think the hardest things to digest about the book is the fact that I could relate to quite a bit of it, good and bad ... How the characters sometimes felt, behaved & later regretted their behavior. I absolutely loved Eileen's husband Ed, but how could I not love his loyalty, humor, and later hopelessness. The struggles faced with an Alzheimer's family member is something I have never personally been through; my family dies of cancer long before their brain deteriorates like the man I this book. In places I would be in tears from what the mother (wife) & son were going through (as well as Ed's struggle with losing control of his life, yet still being aware enough to feel like a burden). There are several situations where Ed is at himself enough to be humorous when they are trying to "calm him" by telling him things that aren't exactly accurate.

I loved Eileen's determination to work herself into a better situation in life, and despite getting a lot of hard hits, I still respected her at the end (even mores since she did not just send Ed away when things got hard). She did not take the easy way out, and that still gains respect from some people. At first their teen son is a snot (not dealing well with losing his father eventhough his father is physically still there), but he grows too as the story (years) go on.

I have actually gotten a little teary recalling this LONG story. There is a lot of detail about Eileen's childhood - her adulthood - even her son's maturity into adulthood. Generations span, ideas change and evolve as life goes on. The story just would not have been the same nor had the same effect without what at times seems like a lot of pointless detil. As I was reading, I wished it would move on, but if it had passed more quickly with less detail the experience would not have been as meaningful in the end.

Not a quick read, but I will never forget it. So many feelings and understandings brought to life. I hope this book is around for many generations to enjoy.



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Feb 11, 2015

Review: Forbidden: Discover the Legend


Forbidden: Discover the Legend
Forbidden: Discover the Legend by Tina Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Book description:

The Mystical Bond, the Fatal Allure ... of Hunter & Prey

Misunderstood seventeen year old Lila Crain unwillingly moves to the foreboding town of Shade, prepared to face her punishment- Shade High. But she can't begin to anticipate the life-altering events that lie in wait for her.

The dark and charismatic Reid has a wolfish grin and amber eyes that would make any girl blush and he has his sights set on the new girl in school.
Reid's stunning friends- including icy top dog Sam - invite Lila into their clique. Suspicious, yet flattered by their attention she answers the intriguing call like a moth to a flame.

Thrillingly introduced to the local nightlife by the enigmatic group, Lila finally feels like she belongs. But her newly found friendships threaten to turn sour when she unwittingly develops feelings for the leader's off-limits boyfriend, Sky.
Tensions rise further when a quirky local named Cresida warns Lila to stay away from the clique at all costs.
Undeterred, she is irresistibly drawn to uncover the truth behind their mysterious lifestyle.

Lila unwittingly starts off a chain of events that will forever alter fate for both hunter and hunted as she learns they have been waiting for her...


Inspired by the legend of the femme fatale goddess, Artemis, Wolf Sirens is a compelling gothic masterpiece of paranormal romance.



Forbidden, Fever, Night Fall and the soon to be released Dusk in Shade - all continue the tale of Lila Crain, the heroine with the chip on her shoulder, on an epic paranormal journey in which forbidden love threatens to destroy the underworld.

Review:

I generally like wolf, supernatural type books, but I struggled with this book that I was given for an honest review. I honestly went back & forth between seriously disliking the main character & trying to cut her some slack because she is just a teen. I wondered if she was made so hypocritical & shallow for a reason. Her shady personality made her hard to like. I almost liked her eventual enemy more because I could at least understand her need for control & to keep things as they have been in her group / pack.

What was fun and interesting was when Lila was getting to know the stuck up, in group she thought was too good for her, not good enough bla, bla, bla .... They sounded like fun and carefree pack anyone might feel dran to be a part of (if you fit any way). The descriptions of the group's friendship & laid back fun seemed inviting (if you were invited).

I felt for the character who felt anger and hurt towards the group. It made for a good set up for the drama to come and actually made me root for the "revenge, put an end to it all" side of things.

As far as the writing, there were many places I had to reread and wonder "what???" about the meaning or how the statements even made sense. Lila was always thinking what seemed to be conflicting ideas. She is a pretty shallow & petty person to not seem to like it when others act the same. There are lots of people who are actually like that I suppose. The shallow and selfish traits she displayed made it hard to feel on her side in most situations though.

I made it through the first book, but will not read the others.




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